Best of Miami: Little Havana
Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood is filled with culture, music, fantastic food, and history. Centered around the famous Southwest 8th Street, Little Havana is always alive with the celebration of Cuban heritage. With so much to do and see in Little Havana, it can be challenging to decide where to go during a visit. To make it easier, we’ve come up with a list of our favorite places to eat, drink, and experience this wonderful part of Miami.
Check Out Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center
The Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center is a renowned museum and performance center, and it’s also a community center and an art gallery. Take a walk around inside to see an old Havana cigar bar, vibrant Cuban artwork, and more. Thursdays at Cubaocho are all about salsa, with lessons, music, and dancing until 1 a.m. If you can’t make it on Thursday, there are live performances to see on almost any night of the week. Make sure to check out the museum, where you can see a rare collection of Cuban art that dates back to the 1800s.
Visit Domino Park
The official name of this park is Maximo Gomez Park, but everyone calls it Domino Park. Here you can find generations of Cubans who gather together every day to have coffee and play dominoes while gossiping or talking politics. When you take a walk through this park, you’ll hear lots of talking mixed with the sound of slapping dominoes. It’s also an interesting place to see with its domino-decorated tile walkways and benches for spectators. If you play dominoes, you might even be able to get in on a game.
Check Out the Roosters of Calle Ocho
Calle Ocho is not only known for Domino Park; it’s also famous for its colorful roosters. If you’re wondering if you’ve made it to Little Havana, you’ll know you’re in the right spot as soon as you see the larger-than-life roosters painted in bright colors. The rooster is an important symbol in Cuban culture, representing power and strength. The fiberglass sculptures arrived in Little Havana in 2002 as part of the Rooster Walk project designed to celebrate the neighborhood’s Cuban culture, and the collection has grown since then.
There are at least 12 different roosters in Little Havana, so make sure to explore enough to find all of them.
Visit Cuban Memorial Boulevard Park
One of the coolest Little Havana historic sites is Cuban Memorial Boulevard Park. It has statues of the important Cuban figures who fought for independence. The center of the park features a statue of the Virgin Mary, and there is a green area with an eternal flame to memorialize all the Cuban heroes.
Walk the Walk of Fame
Little Havana has its own walk of fame, much like the one you can see in Hollywood. It’s often referred to as the Latin Walk of Fame and has pink marble stars showcasing famous Cuban stars and entertainers with ties to South Florida. Some of the stars you can see include Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias, and Celia Cruse, one of Cuba’s most famous salsa singers who died in 2003. The Walk of Fame sits right outside Domino Park, and you can’t miss the stars. They are right on the sidewalk.
Eat at Versailles Restaurant
When you visit Little Havana, you have to stop at Versailles Restaurant. This place has been serving up Cuban food and coffee since 1971. It’s another common gathering area and a great place to see the locals who like to sit and stand outside by the walk-up takeout windows while they drink their coffee. Versailles serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you can count on traditional Cuban food and comfort classics such as croquetas, black beans and rice, moros, and sweet plantains.
If you’ve never tried Cuban coffee before, this is the place to get it. The restaurant has an old Havana-style Ventanita, where you can get a potent shot of the sweet Cuban coffee made with several shots of espresso and lots of sugar to make it sweet. There’s also a bakery where you can get your fill of Cuban pastries.
Get a Treat at Azucar Ice Cream Company
Little Havana’s most famous ice cream company offers Cuban-inspired flavors. This place is definitely worth a stop for a refreshing treat, and you can find combinations unlike anything you’ve had before. Some of the flavors include guava and cream cheese, eggnog, sweet plantain, and rum cake with walnuts.
The menu has seasonal flavors that you might want to try before they disappear. Around the holidays, you can get chocolate cherry, double nougat, and berry Christmas.
Listen to Music at Ball and Chain
Ball and Chain is a must during a trip to Little Havana. This live music venue has an atmosphere reminiscent of 1940s Havana, with rattan fans spinning overhead and pine plank ceilings. The restored interior looks just like it did when Billie Holiday and Count Basie played there, and you can also go out back to the clamshell stage and patio for drinks and live music. Ball and Chain features local bands that perform everything from salsa to jazz.
Get Fresh Fruit at Los Pinarenos Fruteria
Los Pinarenos is a family-owned fruit market and the oldest open-air market you can find in Miami. It’s been around for over 50 years. This place is always worth the stop, whether you want to just look around or get some fresh-squeezed fruit juice made with exotic fruit. Stop by and grab some classic Miami staples such as mameys, guanbanas, and mango. If you order a smoothie, make sure to try the Green Juice. It’s made with real sugarcane.
Los Pinarenos also has some delicious food. Try the tamale, the mini Cuban sandwich, or the homemade tuna. Don’t leave before getting a Cafe Cubano. The owner makes these herself, and they are unlike any other in the area.
These are some of our favorite Little Havana spots. Do you have some others? Stop by Miami Car Credit and let us know. We’d love to go see them and maybe even add them to our list.